But where Levine has really established himself is in the tribute-band circuit, where he plays the role of three major rockstars. His main tribute band is The Distractions, which has Levine looking and sounding like Elvis Costello. Performing as Ric Ocasek, he fronts a Cars tribute act called The Dangerous Types. Finally, he’s also a substitute Noel Gallagher in an Oasis cover band called Foasis.
Notably, he has previously impersonated Malcolm Young in AC/DC tribute Back 2 Black. “The tribute band scene in Southern California is a riot. It’s a great way to make some bread and get up on stage.”
Levine said he has a system when it comes to getting his chosen impression down right.
“I find the best thing to do when you’re doing an impression of someone is to sing like you’re making fun of them, mocking them,” he said. “Without actually making a joke out of the situation. It’s tough to explain, but it works for Elvis and for Ric Ocasek [impersonations].”
He said that over time, he’s stopped concerning himself with trying to sound exactly like the records and just tries to put on a high-energy live show.
“That way, even if someone in the audience has never heard a Costello song, they are still blown away by our show,” he said. “The Attractions were a punk band. So it’s okay if we play the songs a little fast, loud and out of control. It’s also important to just have fun with it and don’t ever take it too seriously. I like to treat the audience as if they’re in on a big joke and we’re all kind of goofing off and playing make believe.”
Levine said he is quite happy with his decision to relocate from the East Coast.
“I headed west until I couldn’t head any wester,” he joked. “Of all the places I lived in, OB/San Diego just seemed like the right place for me to be at the time. I figured if I was going to make the change and leave New York, I was going to do it right. There’s no sense in me living in Southern California unless I’m right on the water.”
He said there are other really great neighborhoods in San Diego, but “If I’m going to live in North Park, South Park, Golden Hill, etc, I might as well have stayed in Brooklyn.”
He said he likes that Ocean Beach has a “vibe” of it’s own .
“It’s a bit of a time capsule,” he said. “It’s the sleepy beach town I always dreamt of. I like that I see the same people every day and that I know all my neighbors. The water really calms me. I live right on the cliffs, south of Newport Avenue and I like that I can walk out of my front door and stare at the ocean, listen to the waves. It sounds hokey, but it really keeps me centered. I surf about as often as I can now. I’m getting better.”
While he’s already in multiple tribute bands, Levine said he is considering making room on his schedule for one more.
“There’s a guy out there who does an act called Elvis Prestello,” Levine said. “He looks, dresses, acts and sings like Elvis Presley, but sings Costello songs. Someday, I hope to share a bill with him and do the polar opposite. Sing Presley songs as Costello.”